Name: Janice Trudeau, retired interior designer, living in West Toledo.
Garden specs: My home is on a 60-by-120-foot lot.
When did you start gardening: 1985 or so, shortly after I moved here from Monroe. The yard was just a basketball court and grass surrounded by a chain-link fence. Gardening was always in the back of my head as something I wanted to do when I was an empty nester or when I retired.
What do you grow? Flowers mainly. I love all things French, so when I built a veranda adjacent to the garage, I put in a vintage French daybed, found old French metal chairs, and a table. I start my day here. I like to improvise and reuse and restyle things. A small antique stove is a wine bar and a mini-fridge is in what appears to be a wooden icebox. A vintage cabinet holds dishes, utensils, and everything I need to serve a meal out here. There's a few chandeliers.
PHOTO GALLERY: Janice Trudeau's garden getaway
The house and garage are painted a limey avocado green offset by shades of pink. Aqua is my new accent color. Several mirrors are affixed to the fence and a wooden arbor hides my dirt pile. Above the arbor's gate a round mirror is installed; it creates an optical illusion, making it look as if you're seeing beyond the arch.
Favorite plant: I love vines such as autumn clematis. I used to experiment and buy a lot of plants, but now I know what works for me, such as hydrangeas, hostas, roses, phlox, impatiens, begonias, and coleus.
Give us a tip: In my world, everything should be aesthetically pleasing. When I sit, I'm constantly looking around and picturing things in compositions. But a vignette has to flow. You can have too much stuff. And you have to give the eye a rest; grass will provide that and will set the stage for flower beds as well as eliminate visual clutter. Also, I like to create visual triangles by alternating heights with objects (a statue, trellis, mirror, hydrangeas, roses) that cause the eye to travel up, then down; up again and down.
<Hours spent gardening: 20-plus a week.
strong>Annual expense:$300 and up.
Challenges: Maple tree whirlybirds. On the other hand, the tree's shade is a plus.
I'm proud of: All that I've learned though the years from trial and error. And I think when you look at what you did as a child, you still love to do some of those things as an adult. As a little girl, I loved to play house. We'd take my dad's drop cloths outside, spread them out, and each one would become a room. Then we'd bring all our stuff and our mother's stuff out and create a house. There's a children's book about a parent bird looking for a new house and it ends, "I love my house. I love my nest. In all the world this nest is best." When I'm in my garden, I feel like I'm living my dream.
What I've gotten out of gardening: I've never cared for the grass cutting chore, so eliminated most of the original grass to plant flower and landscaping beds. Hence, it's more labor intensive!